How to Reheat a Cream Sauce

Common Scenario
You: "Oh, this fettucine with mushroom and chicken cream sauce is so tasty, but if I take another bite I’ll have no room for tiramisu. I know, I’ll bring it to work tomorrow for lunch."

The Next Day
You: "Gross, what happened? I put my pasta in the microwave for two minutes and now it’s an oily mess."

When it comes to ordering creamy pastas the best thing you can do is share because they will never be as good reheated, but there is a way to salvage those leftovers if you really have to.

The trick is to heat it low and slow. The quick transition from cold to hot makes the bonds that hold your sauce together so unstable that they break creating all that unappetizing oil, so you have to slowly ease that congealed block of calories into a tasty meal

Set your office microwave to the second lowest power level, add about a tablespoon and half of milk for a block a pasta the size of a pack of instant ramen, and microwave covered for 3 minutes. Microwave temperatures differ, so you may want to check after the first minute to make sure it’s not heating too fast.

Don’t stir up the pasta until just before you eat and you will have a leftover lunch that is almost as good as the first time.

Hanami Season: An Idea for the Weekend

Looking for something a little different to do next weekend? Cherry Blossoms are now in bloom and they are a great excuse to pack a picnic and get outside.

Your own picnic can be as simple as stopping by a store on the way to the park. Even the most basic supermarkets have a fresh roll section. Bagging your own rolls means you get a greater variety to chose from and the exact number you want. At the deli counter, you can buy just enough fresh cold cuts for your picnic and they usually have mustard and mayonnaise packets, so grab a few. Fruit wise, oranges and bananas are a great because you don’t have to wash them and salty snacks like olives and potato chips travel well. Add a blanket and bottle of wine from home and you’ve got an inexpensive way to enjoy the weekend.

In Japan the devotion to this springtime ritual is so great that companies encourage their employees to take afternoons off and enjoy lunch under the blossoms with their coworkers. On weekends, parks across the country are packed with people equipped with bento boxes, beer, and sake. Hanami literally means looking at flowers in Japanese, so even if you don’t have cherry blossoms nearby you can still honor the tradition by getting out of the house and under the trees.

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Photo: Japanese House Philadelphia, PA

What’s the Deal with Pasta Water?

Are you pouring kitchen gold down the drain? After Monday’s pasta boiling post, one reader suggested I follow up with this critical kitchen secret.

Pasta water added to your favorite sauce makes a more evenly coated, well bound finished product. Think about one of those white wine sauces and you’ll get what I mean. Two tablespoons of that starchy, hot, salty water, added two minutes before finishing, will turn your slippery shrimp scampi into a pasta loving silk coating every linguine strand.

In Italy I learned that this also works great with pesto. A tablespoon of that pre-seasoned water thins the sauce just enough for it move and mix with your pasta without diluting the pesto flavor.

If you’re not convinced, take a look at Bill Buford’s book Heat. After months working as a lowly kitchen apprentice for Mario Batali, he is convinced that the restaurant's pasta water should be bottled and sold.

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